In the technical recruiting game, earning trust from your partner—aka your hiring manager—is an imperative edge.
Just ask Neal Rosenblum, who has spent his career sharpening his recruiting skills at the most valuable technology companies, including Facebook, Google, and Apple. His nearly two decades of talent acquisition experience have led to his proudest work today: Building a world-class engineering team at leading FinTech startup WePay.
It’s where he’s crafted a process that commonly overcomes most stringent hiring goals, like onboarding 10 engineering interns within 2 weeks or hiring 18 developers within 16 weeks.
What’s his secret? His hard-won lesson is simple: “Our success is entirely because of our strong partnership with our engineering team.”
Success for recruiters starts top down. If you don’t build trust with the engineering leaders, your job is going to be an uphill battle.
Everyone seems to understand trust, but how do you take steps to build it? Here’s a primer on the four pillars you need to know to build trust with engineering managers, VP of engineers, or directors:
What is the language of trust? Most technical recruiters that I’ve come across share a common struggle: It’s hard to get engineering managers to open up communication to get valuable feedback, alignment than, say, sales or marketing folks. Without strong communication, it’s almost impossible to do your job well, and earn the trust you deserve.
But it’s a complete myth that engineers are not communicative. In fact, software development is a highly collaborative skill that requires development of communication skills. If you’re feeling like your engineering manager is hard to approach, remember that it’s not a matter of a gap in communication. Rather, it’s a difference in communication style.
Developers are all about efficiency, quantitative thinking and cold hard facts. How can you solve for the fastest, most optimal solution? Approach every interaction with this optimality in mind.
Here are some tactics with examples on how to execute:
As the talent acquisition leader, on the onset, you are the face of the engineering team for candidates. I can’t emphasize this enough: Doing the work to truly understand the technical nuances of the people you are hiring is huge.
Average recruiters simply read the job requirements and then use keywords to find people’s profiles that match. World-class recruiters, like Neal, for instance, know that investing a little time upfront to truly understand the technical roles pays off in a big way.
The next time you have an open technical req, ask your engineering manager to host a workshop for your recruiting team. There’s only one goal: Make sure you understand how the technical role at hand impacts the engineering team at large.
For instance, it’s fine to say that you need a front-end engineer with HTML, CSS3, experience with jQuery, and Ruby on Rails. You can scan through resumes, search boolean strings on LinkedIn and find people that seem good on paper.
But what does all of this really mean to you beyond acronyms and technical jargon?
Ask your engineering manager to host a workshop explaining how your engineering team, product roadmap and company mission will benefit from this role. Chances are, he or she will appreciate your taking the time to find the right skills.
Disclaimer: This exercise is not about learning how to code or memorizing technical specs. It’s about asking “why” at least 4 or 5 times until you get to the heart of what types of candidates will make the biggest impact. As a bonus, this info on the candidate’s impact will come in handy when you’re convincing him or her to join the company.
Before Soham Mehta became a tech interview coach at Interview Kickstart, he was a director of engineering at Box. In working closely with technical recruiters to build and scale his team, he says that one critical way recruiters can build trust is by being killer project managers.
For a hiring manager, hiring has many unpredictable or fluke factors.” Mehta says. “I need to know that my technical recruiting partners aren’t dropping the ball and letting candidates slip by.”
Organization is key. Use a good ATS, and keep a record of everything, which brings us to our final pillar of trust….
If you’re not confident in your metrics, there’s likely a bigger issue with your process. Metrics are the best way to speak the same language as your engineering manager (re: #1). Sit down and review…what are the items that you can quantify, benchmark:
“Make a spreadsheet for metrics and watch them like a hawk,” Mehta says. This is essentially how engineers manage their projects: By breaking down each piece and then measuring its performance.
It’s how you can identify interesting patterns, learn what’s working and where you need to double down.
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